Oil slid towards its worst May performance in seven years, as global trade tensions escalated, undermining the outlook for energy demand growth.
West Texas Intermediate crude for July fell $1.65 to $54.94 a barrel at 10:06 pm (IST) on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the month, the futures were down 14 per cent and on track for the worst May since 2012. Brent for July settlement retreated $2.22 to $64.65 on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.
The global benchmark crude was trading at a premium of $9.71 a barrel to WTI.
Equities also plunged as investors deserted risky asset classes for the safety of gold and US Treasuries. Oil surged more than 40 per cent to start the year on the strength of Opec output cuts and crises in Venezuela, Iran and other major suppliers.
But since peaking in late April, prices have fallen off about 17 per cent as the US-China trade dispute intensified.
A jump in U.S. gasoline stockpiles disclosed in a government report this week added to angst about slackening demand.